realignmentThe Canadiens will be playing in what is now being designated as “‘Conference 2” next season.   NHLPA has g approval to the league’s re-alignment proposal on a two season tryout basis.  There’ll be a re-assessment after the 2014-2015 season.

In short, the Canadiens will be playing in an inflated version of the current Northeast Division.  Detroit and the two Florida teams, Tampa and Sunrise, have been added to Boston, Ottawa, Toronto and Buffalo.

Here’s the way it’s set up.  Two Conferences – Eastern & Western.  Two Divisions each conference.  (The Canadiens will be in the Atlantic Division).

Western Conference

Pacific Division: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver.

Mid-West Division: Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.

Eastern Conference

Central Division: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto.

Atlantic Division: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, N.Y. Islanders, N.Y. Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington.

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr communicated the players’ position earlier Thursday.

“After discussions with the Executive Board, the NHLPA has given consent to realignment, to be re-evaluated following the 2014-15 season.”

The NHL Board of Governor will meet shortly to rubber stamp the agreement.

It’s unwieldy and makes little sense.  There are sixteen teams in the East and fourteen in the West.  But it does get both Columbus and Detroit back to playing in their own time zone and Winnipeg playing out west where they belong.  And who knows what will happen to some of those basketcase franchises and expansion between now and 2015.

As for the playoff format=

…..The top three teams in each of the four divisions will go to the first round of the playoffs.

…..The remaining four (two in the East and two in the West) will be wild card teams.  They will be the teams with the two best record that didn’t automatically qualify.

…..Playoffs will be divisional to start.  1 vs. 4, 2 vs 3 in the first round.  The two fourth sees would be the wild card teams.  The best team in the division would get the lowest ranked wild-card team.  The other division winner would play the higher ranked wild card.  Hope you’re following me…because it’s possible that both wild card teams could come out of one division.

…..First-round winners then meet in second round in the division championship; Third round sees Pacific winner vs. Mid-West winner in Western Conference finals; Central winner versus Atlantic winner in Eastern Conference finals; Eastern and Western Conference champions meet in Stanley Cup finals.